Strict Liability In Car Accident Cases


Sometimes accidents happen even when all the parties involved take reasonable care. This is especially true for certain inherently dangerous activities that always carry some risk regardless of how carefully they are performed. So, when something goes wrong and an innocent bystander or motorist is injured, the law holds businesses that engage in these ultra hazardous activities liable, even if they exercised all reasonable care and did not act negligently.

This legal concept — called strict liability — does not come up frequently, but it is a theory attorneys should consider in cases involving injuries sustained under certain types of circumstances:

  • During the transportation of hazardous materials
  • During certain demolition projects
  • During blasting operations

Here’s an example of how this works. Consider a truck hauling explosives on a public highway. The trucking company has taken all reasonable steps to secure the cargo and comply with all applicable laws and the truck driver is operating the truck in a manner that is reasonable under the circumstances. Nevertheless, something causes a portion of the cargo to detonate and injure a nearby motorist. Because this is an inherent risk of hauling explosives on public roads, the trucking company may be liable even though it did not act negligently.

The theory behind this reasoning is that the business that stands to gain by subjecting the public to this type of risk should be the one to pay for any harm that results, even if the company took all reasonable steps to perform the activity as safely as possible. This situation is distinct from typical negligence cases where an injured plaintiff must be able to point to some unreasonable action or inaction or violation of the law that caused the accident to hold the other party liable. Seattle personal injury attorneys should not view this as a shortcut around identifying negligent conduct on the part of the defendant but should be prepared to consider this theory when the circumstances warrant it.

Topics:  Car Accident, Strict Liability

Published In: Personal Injury Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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